The current Congress has 127 women, an all-time high.
The record number of women sworn into office Jan. 3 has changed the face of Congress. The freshman class in the House is the youngest and most racially diverse in history.
It includes the first Muslim and first Native American women. Several states have sent African-American women to the House for the first time, and Texas, a state that is 40 percent Hispanic, has elected its first Latinas. Several of the new women identify as lesbian or bisexual.
In the Senate, six states are now represented only by women, also a first. Together, these women make up nearly a quarter of the voting membership in Congress.
And Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful elected woman in U.S. history, has regained her title as House Speaker, this time for the 116th Congress.
0 first-time candidates have been elected. Several political novices already had disrupted the political order by beating long-term incumbents in House primaries, but the majority were not successful in the general election.
0 Republican women have been elected. Of the 277 female candidates, the vast majority were Democrats. Of the 127 women in the 116th Congress, only 21 are Republicans.
An upset, historic firsts, and defeats
Arizona gets a female senator for the first time (actually, two)
Martha McSally (R)
Kyrsten Sinema (D)
Two distinctive women from two closely divided districts vied to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake — and make history as Arizona’s first female Senator. The state wound up with both of them.
Kyrsten Sinema won the election in a race that remained undecided due to slow vote counting nearly a week after the election. In the House since 2012, she rose to deputy whip and has moved closer to the center after beginning her career in the Green Party. Raised a Mormon, she grew up poor, got multiple degrees including at Harvard and worked as a social worker. She is openly bisexual.
In an unusual twist, her opponent, Martha McSally, will join her in the Senate. Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally on Dec. 18 to the seat held by the late John McCain. A retired Air Force colonel, she was the first woman to fly in combat and won a bitter House race in 2014. She’s made border security, including surveillance technology, a priority. She condemned Donald Trump as “disgusting” during his 2016 run but touted working with him during the campaign.
Arizona becomes the sixth state where both senators are women, a record number, joining California, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada and Washington.
Don’t call it a “concession” in Georgia
Stacey Abrams (D)
Brian Kemp (R)
After a bitterly fought race and a drawn-out post-election battle, Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of Georgia’s House, has ceded to former secretary of state Brian Kemp. “This is not a speech of concession, because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper," she said as she ended her campaign.
Kemp, an unabashed proponent of Trumpism, has been accused of using his office to suppress votes and purge rolls improperly. The race illustrated as well as any the national tension between diverse urban and suburban voters and white conservatives. Abams ran a boldly progressive campaign in a once-bedrock Republican state that is now 40 percent minority.
Another Republican seat flips in Southern California
Young Kim (R)
Gil Cisneros (D)
This was one of the wilder races, for an open seat in a minority-white, affluent California district. Kim, a former member of the state assembly, was on the staff of retiring Rep. Edward R. Royce (R) for two decades but fell short in her bid to claim his seat. She would have been the first Korean American woman in Congress. Kim supported student loan forgiveness, lower taxes and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Her opponent, Gil Cisneros also supports DACA, and sanctuary cities. He’s Hispanic, a Navy veteran and won $266 million in 2010 in the Mega Millions lottery. (He took the annuity.) This seat was a top target for Democrats.
Revolution alert, again
Abigail Spanberger (D)
Dave Brat (R)*
Spanberger is a first-time candidate and a former federal law enforcement agent and CIA operative spurred to run as part of a broad women’s resistance to Trump. She campaigned on local issues to defeat Brat and becomes the first woman — and the first Democrat in nearly 50 years — to represent the Virginia district that includes part of the capital of Richmond as well as suburbs and farmlands.
Brat is a marquee name from the tea party revolt who unseated powerful House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary. A member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, Brat has a PhD in economics and a divinity degree.
South Dakota gets a groundbreaking governor
Kristi Noem (R)
Billie Sutton (D)
Noem served in the state House and was elected to Congress in 2011. She left college to return home and run her family’s ranch when her father was killed in a farming accident. She has become the state’s first female governor.
Sutton, a leading rodeo rider until a horse left him paralyzed from the waist down, is a pro-gun, antiabortion Democrat in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide in decades. He made the race close by taking advantage of Republican divisions and appealing to ranchers and farmers, but finished about 5 points behind Noem.
Claire McCaskill lost the toughest fight of any incumbent
Claire McCaskill (D)*
Josh Hawley (R)
McCaskill has won 22 races since her opponent was born, but that talent was not enough for her to overcome Trump’s popularity in the state, which he won by nearly 19 points. Her votes against both Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court hurt her with conservatives. A former prosecutor and Missouri auditor, she’s investigated military contractors for fraud and is ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Hawley, a Yale School School graduate who clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, is a newcomer to politics and closely aligned with Trump. He became the state’s attorney general in 2017 and has joined a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.